Cannabis landraces. The essential characteristic of Cannabis landraces is that they’re domesticates. That means they’ve been selected by farmers for desired traits, whether high-quality fibre, large and nutritious seeds, or inflorescences that are rich in THC. The widespread claim on the Internet that landraces are wild plants created solely by nature is misleading. No doubt landraces are typically region-specific and have innevitably adapted to their local environment through natural selection. But their defining qualities are the result of humans consciously and unconsciously selecting for desired products, in some regions over many millennia. Asian ‘drug-type’ landraces thus form two main types: domesticates for traditional resin (charas or hashish), which are found in the Himalaya, Hindu Kush, Central Asia, and Middle East; and domesticates for bud (ganja), which are found in subtropical and tropical India and Southeast Asia. Crucially, landraces are an invaluable repository of biodiversity, the importance of which can’t be overstated. See the essential new study from McPartland & Small, ‘A classification of endangered high-THC cannabis (Cannabis sativa subsp. indica) domesticates and their wild relatives’.

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